The Arts

Grace and Power: The Nutcracker returns to Winston-Salem

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Since the 18th century launching of the first ballet school, the Imperial School of Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia has laid claim to the art, making it a strict and revered profession—and rightfully so. And though there are numerous productions that showcase the grace and athleticism of Russian ballet, in America the most iconic is The Nutcracker. This holiday, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts does the art form justice in its entrancing annual production of the classic.

Radiating both grace and power, The Nutcracker is captivating and sure to raise your spirits for the holidays. It’s a beautiful story rich with worldly tradition, mesmerizing movements and a spellbinding score.

In the ballet, originally choreographed in 1892 by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the magic of Christmas Eve comes alive with a Sugar Plum Fairy ruling the Land of Sweets, and a great battle between the Nutcracker, who leads an army of toy soldiers, and the great Mouse King.

UNCSA ’s production of the classic has dazzled audiences for more than 40 years. In fact, for the last two decades it’s resurrected my own love for ballet and the orchestra and has become a heart-warming holiday tradition. Watching the talent that comes from the school of dance is a real treat and I’m always fascinated—without fail—at the incredible feats displayed on stage. The school’s performance is one that commands respect—it’s beautiful, enriching and inspiring. I always leave with a desire to be a part of their world.

This year’s ballet includes two performances (Dec. 14-15) by guest dancers Megan LeCrone, performing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Martin Harvey, performing as the Cavalier Prince.

“Our UNCSA student performers in The Nutcracker are themselves destined to be among the best dancers in the world,” said Susan Jaffe, Dean of Dance. “Megan, an alumna of UNCSA’s high school ballet program, serves as a perfect testament that the brightest ballet stars of the future are performing on UNCSA’s stages today. I’m so proud of Megan’s stunning career.”

LeCrone is a native of Winston-Salem, a UNCSA alumna and a soloist for the New York City Ballet. She made her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy last year in NYCB’s production of The Nutcracker. Harvey is both a highly accomplished actor and an award-winning former member of London’s Royal Ballet Company.

“As UNCSA celebrates the 50th anniversary of the inaugural production of The Nutcracker, we’re thrilled to continue the tradition of bringing world-class guest artists to our stage,” said Katharine Laidlaw, UNCSA Chief Marketing Officer. “Megan and Martin are extraordinary dancers who will inspire our students and captivate audiences.”

Besides the amazing display of poise and athleticism, UNCSA’s production is also filled with magical set changes, like the dreamlike growth of the Christmas tree on stage.

Wanna go? UNCSA’s production of The Nutcracker runs Dec. 9-18 at the Stevens Center. Tickets are $29-$83 depending on seating. For tickets and more information call 336-721-1945 or visit uncsaevents.com.

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